Campaign for city as 51st state; Antiwar activist on hunger strike

The Sept. 2, 1971, issue of The Villager (10 cents) reported that The Committee to Make New York City a State was out in full force over the weekend, trying to collect 45,000 signatures needed to put the statehood issue on the ballot in November.

On The Villager’s press day, Bob Tendler, head of the Village Independent Democrats and the statehood drive’s organizer, said another 5,000 signatures of registered Manhattan voters had to be collected by that day.

“The Statehood Committee is also eyeing the financial gain that the city would reap by becoming the 51st state,” the paper reported. “Tendler said that if the proposal became a statehood referendum in November, the city would stand a chance of getting $1.5 billion in former state taxes and ‘fairer representation.’”

Elsewhere, Villager David Malament, 23, a Columbia honors graduate and Fulbright scholar, was leading four other conscientious objectors in a hunger strike at Danbury Federal Penitentiary in Connecticut, in support of parole for antiwar protesters Fathers Philip and Daniel Berrigan.

Malament, jailed for refusing to join the Army, had first been imprisoned at the Federal House of Detention, at West and 11th Sts. There, he said, he watched the other convicts “eyeing” him. Finally one of the men approached him and said, “You know, I’ve been watching you, but I’ve decided you are not weak or soft…you are a gentle man.”

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